Earlier this week the beleaguered legion of cinema revealed the films that had managed to persevere through the epidemic and find their way onto nomination lists.
In ordinary times, the announcement would be met with a flood of cinema ticket stubs as cinephiles rushed to see the year’s best at the box office. This year, however, with most cinema curtains closed indefinitely the world over, most of the movies are already available. Here, we’ll take a look at where you can catch the highlights of a difficult year for the silver screen.
The pandemic has forced the ceremony to be delayed, with the prestigious awards initially set to take place on February 28th. The Academy previously extended the eligibility period for nominated films by two months, allowing movies released from January 1st 2020, to February 28th, 2021, to be nominated for the Oscars.
They made other significant adjustments to the eligibility rules in response to the pandemic, which means they now accept digital screenings for the first time. Previously, films needed to be screening in theatres for at least one week in a Los Angeles-area to qualify.
“For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control,” Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson previously said in a statement.
‘Best Picture’ is the most coveted award at the ceremony, and eight films have been listed, including Nomadland and David Fincher’s Mank, which are early favourites to take home the prize.
They are joined on the nominations list by Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, the incredible Minari, The Father starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal starring Riz Ahmed and the groundbreaking Judas and the Black Messiah.
How to stream the Oscar-nominated films online:
The Father (Florian Zeller)
The first flix on the list is The Father. The movie is an emotional drama that depicts a daughter’s struggles (played by Olivia Coleman) in trying to assist her father (Anthony Hopkins) who suffers from dementia but refuses all help.
The Father was one of the few films which received a cinematic release and depending on your local rules, may still be available. Otherwise, you can catch the movie on premium rental service from March 26th.
Judas and the Black Messiah (Shaka King)
Judas and the Black Messiah was another feature nominated in various categories.
The film documents the tale of former Blank Panther leader Fred Hampton (played by Daniel Kaluuya) and the FBI informant (Lakeith Stanfield) who helped lead to his assassination.
Both roles also landed the actors Best Supporting nominations. Following the relaxing of covid restrictions and the booming interest that followed the Oscar nod, the picture left HBO Max and is currently only available in cinemas.
Mank (David Fincher)
Mank also received a Best Picture nomination and is hotly tipped for several top prizes.
The drama, which tells the story of Herman J. Mankiewicz, the screenwriter behind Orson Welles’s legendary film Citizen Kane in his attempts to complete the screenplay, stars the likes of Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Dance and more.
Fincher, working from a script written by his father Jack, worked alongside Ceán Chaffin, Douglas Urbanski, and Eric Roth who are all on producing duties in what is a deeply personal project for the director. The original script for Mank was first created by his father back in 1990s and, while Fincher has always intended to complete the film, it has repeatedly suffered setbacks in its attempts to get off the ground.
As of now, the film is still streaming on Netflix around the world.
Minari (Lee Isaac Chung)
Minari is one of the lesser-known releases in a list of lesser-known releases. The drama is a tender tale of a Korean family who move to Arkansas to start a farm.
“I didn’t set out to just write 80 [memories], but that’s how many just flowed out of me in one session,” director Chung said of the film. “These were little visual memories, little details.”
“Once I had this set of memories, I realised that there was an arc of a story there,” Chung added. “This family showing up in the middle of nowhere, really, with the dad not having told anyone in the family that he was going to buy this farmland.”
The deeply personal movie is currently playing in cinemas and is available for a $19.99 rental on selected digital platforms.
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao)
Nomadland was the big winner at the Golden Globes, and as history suggests, the Oscars may well follow suit. The drama that documents the story of American economic migrants starring Oscar-winner Frances McDormand as a traveller who reacts to the economic collapse of a small town by setting out to explore the mystical American West.
The film offers yet another masterclass in acting by McDormand, her collaboration with Zhao makes Nomadland one of the best films of the year.
Nomadland is currently streaming only on Hulu and playing in theatres where possible worldwide.
Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)
Promising Young Woman is a dramedy that takes an in-depth look at the #MeToo movement and catapulted lead Carey Mulligan towards the bookie’s favourite spot for Best Actress.
Mulligan, in the lead role, completely dominates the film in a brilliant, controlled, many-layered performance, by turning angry, bitter, grieving, confused, touchingly happy, wounded, and vicious, taking the audience along even at the character’s unbalanced moments, and forcing a certain amount of acceptance even of her more indefensible choices.
Promising Young Woman is currently available for a $19.99 rental on digital platforms.
The Sound of Metal (Darius Marder)
The Sound of Metal saw Riz Ahmed become the first Muslim nominated for a leading role as the star portrays a heavy metal drummer struggling with hearing loss.
“If there’s a way in which people can find themselves in this moment, and can feel inspired and connected on a deeper level, I’m all for it,” Ahmed told Deadline about his history-making Oscar nomination. “Whether they see me as the first British Pakistani, or the first guy from Wembley, you know, there’s so many ways to view it. But as long as it feels like an opportunity for more people than ever before to really connect and feel included in this moment, that’s a blessing.”
The film earned a whopping total of six nominations and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin)
The Trial of the Chicago 7 was the last film on the hampered Oscars list. The courtroom drama takes an incisive looks at sixties counterculture and saw Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen nominated for his performance too.
“There are a lot of reasons it took so long, and now I am glad it did. The film has been on a 14-year collision course with events,” director Aaron Sorkin previously said of the film. “We thought it was plenty relevant when we were making it. Donald Trump was holding (raucous) rallies… but we never imagined just how relevant it would become in the next few months when in May George Floyd was killed…and there were protests in many cities all over America, and those protesters were again met with tear gas and nightsticks.”
The deeply emotional picture has been streaming on Netflix for the last few months and is still currently available.